Kirby

John picked this up last week: Kirby’s Dream Collection. I had never actually played a Kirby game, a fact which earned me reproachful looks and disbelief when revealed. Apparently Kirby is kind of significant in the Nintendo pantheon, owing obeisance only to the likes of Mario and Link.

Last night I finished Kirby’s Dreamland and started Kirby’s Adventure. You play as Kirby, who is . . . a Kirby. Seriously, that is the best answer I could get out of anyone whom I queried about the game. You are Kirby the Kirby, your home is Dreamland and your superpower is eating. And sometimes just swallowing things whole and then projectile vomiting them at your enemies. But it’s not as gross as it sounds, because Kirbys apparently vomit stars. Also if you just swallow a whole bunch of air, you can fly. If need be, you can even spit air as an attack.

Kirbys love to eat. Their bodies are designed to do little more than eat. They are creatures that are pretty much all mouth and stomach1, with only vestigial limbs. Kirbys love nothing more than sitting around all goddamn day swallowing whatever rolls into their faces, pausing only for the occasional regurgitation. Presumably they live in a land of natural bounty or have some sort of agricultural industry in place that allows for this.

Kirby is an all-consuming entity that dwells in the dreaming.

Kirby is an all-consuming entity that dwells in the dreaming.


So the Kirby nation exists peacefully in this endless convivium, and for a time, all is good. Then this fuck, King Dedede comes along and ruins the party for everyone by stealing all the food to enjoy in one massive banquet. The Kirbys, all bloated from decadence and rolling around in pools of their own sick stars, are powerless to stop him.

I didn’t really have a problem with any of this. Everybody in this story is disgusting, and nobody deserves any help. However, they do manage to find one Kirby that is still sort of mobile, so they charge him with waddling up the mountain to go deal with this asshole.

From there on nothing in the game makes any sense, which makes it a fairly standard platformer. Loads of bizarre enemies roaming about (subjects of King Dedede, one would assume) for you to consume. Each of the themed levels are super colorful (and seem very reminiscent of Super Mario 3 – something about the shape/color of the hills in the background, I think). The music is aggressively cheerful and energetic, and the character design is kawaii enough to keep you from thinking overmuch about the horrifying nature of the race you are attempting to save2.

In my opinion, the fight with King Dedede was non-intuitive. You cannot inhale him and he produces no minions to use as ammo. I thought maybe you could grab his hammer. At one point, I was even taking gulps of air and essentially spitting into his mouth when he tried to swallow me. I suspected that was probably not what the game designer intended, so I asked the internet. You have to inhale and spit the stars produced when he tries to jump on you. I guess I should have realized this, as everything Kirby vomits at his enemies turns into stars.

John made a point of mentioning this while I was playing, so it seems worthwhile to note – The Wii U has emulators for pretty much all the old Nintendo hardware, including the Wii. Kirby’s Dream Collection is technically a Wii title, so from the Wii U, I had to run the Wii emulator. From within the Wii emulator, the software runs on the emulators for whichever system the title was originally release. Additionally, all the emulators are designed to be exact replications of those systems, including the places where the system would slow a bit due to overload on the hardware. So you are actually experiencing it in the same way as you would had you played it on the original system.

1Possibly they do not even have stomachs. I suppose it could be feasible to absorb nutrients directly into the lining of the mouth. Maybe you wouldn’t get much for each meal, making constant consumption a more reasonable proposition.
2Unless King Dedede was actually just taking the food to save them from themselves. In which case, you are an unwitting agent of their doom.

Sometimes my dreams have punchlines.

In my dream, I am sitting on my couch playing Pikmin. I notice that something seems off with some of them. They have stopped working, and are just gathering to stare out at me.


pinkmin00_web

They look kind of angry.

I try to zoom in to get a better look at them, but that isn’t working. So I get up and walk over to the television to peer into the screen. At some point I notice that I have stepped into the game. Upon realizing this, I turn to one of the three astronaut characters, nod approvingly and say “That is a very useful feature.”

I walk toward a smaller group.


pinkmin01

I still don’t really understand what’s happening, so I turn to the astronaut again. No help.

Suddenly one of the Pikmin marches directly up to me so I can see it clearly.


pinkmin02

Finally it clicks, and I say “Oooohh. Ok, I get it. Pinkmin.”

Paeprs, pls.

This is Papers, Please. I have sunk a decent amount of time into this game.

This game is really amazingly good. I attribute this in part to the very satisfying sound effects associated with the actions you perform. Your every action has this sort of heavy finality to it. You stamp of judgement comes down hard with the weight of your authority. You communicate with travelers by growling instructions into a loudspeaker. Even when you are flipping through you handbook or passing someone a fingerprint sheet, the turn of each page sounds very deliberate and methodical. As though your intent were to proceed at as frustrating a pace as possible – making sure the applicants are aware, that you are aware that you are doing it.

The there’s the “Detain” buzzer, which is somewhat less aurally commanding. Just a very calm, quick buzz that says “Guards, please escort this sketchy motherfucker to one of the back rooms to discuss the discrepancies in his paperwork.”

I read a couple of articles1 that talked about how impressed they were by the moral dimension of the game – whether you will choose to show compassion to people who don’t have their papers in order, accept bribes, help assassins, etc.

I have no such moral quandaries. I play this game for cathartic reasons. This game is very like my job. Users want something, don’t have their requirements in order to get it, act surprised to hear what the requirements are, ask when that was implemented. I don’t get to detain shit at work, so this is my little treat at the end of the day.

I am the perfect government drone because I hate everyone that approaches my checkpoint. I find their pleas for mercy and understanding intensely irritating. Also grounds for suspicion.

Oh, you need to get into country to reunite with your husband? Because honestly that sounds a lot like something someone planning to blow up a building would say.

Oh, you need access to an operation that is only performed in this country? Because that sounds like an excellent cover for someone looking to assassinate whoever our glorious leader is.

I assume everyone is lying, so I am never swayed from procedure2.

My family is so cold.


1http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/08/23/papers_please_serious_video_game_raises_tricky_moral_questions.html
http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/11/10/244413539/papers-please-puts-your-loyalty-sympathy-to-the-test
2Except Jorji, who I know is clearly lying. Two body searches in, and I start thinking “Gettin real tired of looking at your balls, Jorji.” It’s less aggravation to assume that he needs whatever bulk pills packs he currently has taped to his thighs for a legitimate medical reason.

She probably didn’t deserve this.

So I was playing GTA V the other day, and I met this woman.

trevor05

She was not sprawled in the street when I met her. She was standing in a driveway in the hills of Vinewood, where I had been sneaking into people’s yards to swim in their pools and set bombs.

She was chatting with a neighbor about the inane sort of things you might imagine wealthy people chat about while loitering in their driveways. Outrage over trivial offenses – passionately discussed in hushed, indignant tones. The faux reluctance to speak ill of others overwhelmed by the need for attention and validation. The sort of bonding ritual that occurs when people having nothing of any significance to say feel the urge to have a conversation.

I was supposed to be looking for a place to stash a getaway car, but decided I could spare a few moments to indulge in a game of “stand real close”.

A few minutes under the silent, unwavering gaze of a meth addict is enough to kill the conversation, and the two retreat to their respective mansions. I likewise return to my own business.

———-

Emerging from a pool, sticky bomb in hand, I am suddenly confronted with white suit lady again – now standing at her fence arms folded, gazing down over the city. She catches sight of me crouched in the stealth position one foot away from her, and turns to run.

This naturally triggers Trevor’s chase reflex, so I pursue.

Just as I activate hatevision, I see her leap over the fence, tumble to the bottom of the incline and come up into a full sprint. Watching her weave through traffic, I think – Holy shit. This bitch is on meth.

Being curious as to how far from her spawn point she’ll go, I hop the fence and take off after her. She is unreasonably fast, so I hurl myself down multiple hills to close the distance. I catch up and become fixated with trying to herd the pathing algorithm closer to downtown.

After a protracted foot chase, I see her cut across the street in the far distance, only to have her legs swept out from under her by the hood of a car.

Just walking away from the scene felt very anti-climactic, so I decided to take a few mementos of our brief time together.

trevor00

trevor01

trevor02

trevor03

She will never be subjected to bad customer service again. She is free now.

trevor04

GTA V: Trevor

Some thoughts on Grand Theft Auto V:

1. I am still a shitty driver.

2. I still can’t aim.

3. Holy shit, Trevor.

4. My fear of planes translates into the virtual world.

5. When attempting to take cover, I usually end up on the side of the wall/lumber stack/dumpster under fire, rather than behind it. From the perspective of my attackers, I just fall to the ground and curl into the fetal position whenever someone starts shooting at me. This is pretty consistently a bad tactic.

6. Why in the fuck can you not throw environmental objects at people anymore? I walked up to a construction site on my first day of playing, spied a stack of bricks, and was like “Shit yeah, let’s party.” And then, like some kind of cruel joke, I found that I could not even lay hands on them. I had a pile of bricks. Unsuspecting targets were all around me. And yet, I could do nothing but stand there as they smugly paraded their unmarred skulls in front of me. I felt powerless.

Why did you take this away from me, Rockstar?

7. Trevor.

Instead of one main character, this GTA has three. You can switch between them (once they are unlocked). While you are playing on one of the characters, the other two are going about their own business. So when you switch back to them, they are not where you left them and are typically in the middle of some other task1.

Usually not murder though. That only seems to happen when you are in control. This makes me think that the underlying story is actually that you are a malevolent possessing spirit fucking with the lives of these people for your own amusement. You take control of them, go on a killing spree, and just as you are standing over a pile of bodies and burning wreckage, you peace out and leave them to deal with the aftermath. Think Fallen. Or a Shedim.

It is worth noting that I did not give the GTA series the credit it was due until (relatively) recently (c. TBoGT). I just took it for your typical murder simulator (you know, like most games), and not the freaking brilliant satire of . . . everything that it actually is. My b.

1Trevor is usually just vomiting. Or staring into the sun.

Thomas Was Alone

Friday I finished a game called Thomas Was Alone. It’s about a group of AIs who are basically the x-Men of the AIs inhabiting the mainframe of a company called Artificial Life Solutions. This game is positively beautiful in style, execution and character development – which is impressive considering all the characters are rectangles, and all are voiced by one narrator. It’s like someone is reading you a story that just happens to manifest interactively. And in terms of gameplay, it is essentially everything a platformer ought to be: a series of kinetic puzzles whose solutions require awareness and mindful action. And once you understand how it works, moving through the level is very fluid.

This game was originally developed as a flash game during a 24 hour game design challenge – that version is here, but be aware that it is the mechanics of the game only. Though on that topic, I will say that the jump took a bit of getting used to, as there is no momentum to account for – when you stop holding the stick/arrow key, you just stop your sideways movement, and that is where you fall.

Here is the Steam page for the game, with a trailer and screens for you to admire: Thomas Was Alone Or just watch this (sound on – the soundstrack is pretty excellent as well).

Profile photo of Jessica

Zero is GOB Bluth under the mask. The thought occurs to me every time he throws out a grenade. He yells “Grenade!”, but it’s not like “Look out, grenade!”. It’s more “Grenade, yesss!”, punctuated by an implied fist-pump. Or maybe he just mouths “Fuck, yeah” under his helmet.

Then I heard him say “Illusion” for the first time, and that sealed the deal.

Also just recognized that GOB Bluth is a recursive acronym. Like Xinu. Kind of.

No, wait, it is just redundant. Like ATM machine.

Anyway, enjoy this.

Illusions Michael
tricks are what a whore does for
money or cocaine

Rhythm got me.

I have been playing a lot of Kinect games lately. Specifically, I have been playing a lot of dancing games. I have logged the most time in a game called Rhythm Party. It should be noted that on the majority of the songs, I have achieved a null score in terms of rhythm1. Apparently I utterly lack the ability to move in time with music at even the most basic level. As I was flailing my way through one of the Japanese groupdance tracks, an observation drifted through my mind: I am very awkward.

Then I thought to myself, “Fuck you, stupid brain. That was a cunty thing to think.”

To which it replied, “Well, I guess that makes you a stupid cunt then, doesn’t it?”

1My score in terms of pieces of furniture inadvertently kicked per song is pretty high.

Eden

I want to set up a Minecraft server with a couple of slight modifications. It will be a survival mode game such that dangerous creatures start spawning only after someone has manually lit the first light somewhere in the world. Prior to this, the world would be completely safe, but have an abbreviated day that provides only weak illumination.

After someone sets the first torch, you get a regular day/night cycle, but monsters will aggressively inhabit the land. Ideally everyone would then hunt this person to punish them.